You Know Styrene – A resource for consumers, employees and communities

Health and Safety: Community

Styrene exists only briefly in the environment; it is destroyed rapidly in air and and disappears from soils and water.
No Risk from Styrene in the Environment

Styrene has a distinctive smell that can sometimes be detected if it is released to the atmosphere from a production facility or container used to transport the material. People living near facilities that make or use styrene may occasionally notice a slight scent in the air.

The same 2002 Harvard Center for Risk Analysis study that determined there is no overall health risk from exposure to styrene also looked at styrene’s presence in locations outside of but very close to facilities that use styrene. The study similarly found that the small quantities of styrene present in the environment, even very close to businesses that use liquid styrene, are not harmful to those who live nearby. Source[1]

If you have concerns about styrene odors in your neighborhood, you may wish to contact the local plant’s manager or your local health department.

Extensive research shows that styrene exists only briefly in the environment; it is destroyed rapidly in the air and disappears quickly from soils and surface waters, and does not persist in the human body. Studies also have shown that styrene “exposure via drinking-water is negligible.” Sources[2] For more information, please visit the Environment page of


Styrene is used to produce long-lasting septic tanks, provide corrosion-resistant components for wastewater treatment plants and to reline municipal sewer pipes without needing to dig up streets – applications we typically don’t think about, but that are important to clean water and healthy communities.